Slice congratulates Tesla for its recent successful efforts to improve employee well-being in its Fremont, CA car manufacturing plant.
This comes in response to employee complaints about injury-inducing long hours performing uncomfortable and repetitive tasks. Workers were also dissatisfied with the company’s job reassignment policy for those who were injured.
Regarding the latter, the company’s policy is to reassign injured employees to find them less demanding jobs while they heal. Fair enough. However, with the job change sometimes came a wage change, and easier jobs pay less—gaps could be filled in with disability or workers compensation.
Tesla has scrapped that policy: workers now retain their normal wages regardless of where they work. In some cases, the reassignment may not even be within Tesla. If there are no appropriate positions at the factory, the employee is assigned to volunteer at a local nonprofit or organization, while still receiving regular wages. Way to step up!
Tesla has also made great strides in addressing employee discomforts and reducing injuries.
In its May 14, 2017 company blog post, Tesla reported adding a third shift to reduce overtime demands, creating safety teams, and making ergonomic improvements to its production process: nearly two-thirds of incidents have occurred because of poor ergonomics and long hours of repetitive movements.
The result? “Tesla’s 2017 recordable incident rate [TRIR, the standard metric used to measure workplace injuries] at the Fremont Factory has improved nearly 25% percent,” states a February 4, 2018 company blog post.
Another great move Tesla made was to create the new position of Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) and hire Laurie Shelby to fill it in October of last year. Shelby brings twenty-five years of EHS experience to the electric car giant. Notably, she spent the last seventeen years at Alcoa, which historically has an outstanding safety record.
Two key aspects of Shelby’s effective approach are to be proactive and interactive. She recounts a recent example in the February blog post (just four months into her work there) where an employee suggested an improvement to part of the process of building the Model 3: “We listened and implemented this feedback quickly,” she states. “This is just one example of how Tesla is making improvements by constantly soliciting feedback from employees, and learning and watching how employees do their work—even when an injury or near miss does not occur.”
Slice is excited to be part of this initiative—Tesla employees use the Slice Auto-Retractable Pen Cutter and Auto-Retractable Utility Knife—and watch as this innovative company continues to improve its safety record. We have no doubt Shelby will steer Tesla in the direction of improved employee well-being on the path to the company’s ultimate goal: to create the safest car factory in the world.
How can I successfully implement new safety initiatives?
How do I get buy-in from management and workers?
What’s the best way to build trust and rapport?
Should EHS be a C-Suite position?
We explore these questions and more on the Safety Labs by Slice podcast. Check us out using the links below.